Little fact about me…I love my garden. Like…really love it. Last year I added two new raised beds to the two I previously had. They measure about 4×4 each and they bring me a lot of joy. I grow things my family likes to eat, like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, kale, beans and peas. I even planted a few strawberry plants last year…I think I got 3-4 strawberries from them…but it was still pretty darn exciting! 😉
I have been gardening with my raised beds for a few years, but still mostly feel like an amateur. I’ve had successes with some things, but not everything. Regardless, I can’t describe the joy I get over planting seeds and transplant, watching them grow and then produce food that my family can eat…it’s the best! Did I mention the taste? Nothing compares to the taste of a fresh picked tomato…bean…sugar snap pea..straight from your garden.
Spring is finally here, it’s almost time to get back in the garden and I am SO excited to begin a new gardening series here on Simple Local Life. Grow with Me and Wile’s Lake Farm Market will run for 6 months covering most of the growing season, and will be a seed to plate journey of my garden experience, with tips and guidance provided by Elspeth and the gang at Wile’s Lake Farm Market. There will be a blog post published every other Thursday as well as updates from my garden. Elspeth and I will also be doing a Facebook Live on those Mondays talking about that week’s topic and she’ll be answering my questions, as well as yours during that time. We did our first one this week, and it was a lot of fun! Besides the scheduled posts and Facebook Live, there will lots of pictures shared in between on Facebook and Instagram. Wile’s Lake Farm Market will also be including snippets from this series in their newsletter, so be sure to sign up for that as well. So, I really hope you follow along and grow with me and Wile’s Lake Farm Market this year…it’s going to be fun!
Speaking of fun…how about we talk starting tomato seeds? Yes..that’s right, you can take a little tiny seed, start in inside, transfer to the garden and end up with baskets of tomatoes to eat, cook with, preserve, etc. What could be better! I’ve grown tomatoes in my garden before, but just from transplants. Besides Tiny Tim’s which are little cherry tomatoes, I mostly just grabbed a variety or two not really knowing which I should be planting for what I intended to do with it…which was mostly just eat(!)
This year I’m also looking to try growing some tomatoes for sauce or salsa and Elspeth educated me on a few to consider. She also thought I should grow some from seed, which is something I have never done. I have sown seeds like lettuce and spinach straight into my garden, but never got around to starting plants from seeds inside. So this week…and next…counting back from the average last frost date…is the time to start tomato seeds, with the idea being of planting these into my garden between June 5-10th.
I started by gathering my supplies, some potting soil, some planters and a tray, a spray bottle, seeds, saran wrap and a small gardening spade. I also used some wooden craft sticks/popsicle sticks as markers.
I began by filling my pots within a half an inch or so from the top, I then placed two seeds in each of my pots , which measure 4×4 inches. If you’re just starting out and don’t have pots you can use almost any sort of container that provides drainage such as the bottom of a milk or cream box, keeping in mind you may have to transfer them to bigger pots as they grow.
I went with 3 different varieties of tomatoes from Yonder Hill Farm, which is located in Laconia, right here on the South Shore, and I also planted some green pepper from Halifax Seed, one of Canada’s oldest continuously operating family owned seed companies.
I patted the soil down a bit to make sure it is in contact with the seeds. I then moistened it using lukewarm water in a spray bottle, making sure the soil is damp, an inch or so inside the pot as well. When watering the seeds it’s always a good idea to use lukewarm water so you don’t lower the soil temperature. You also don’t want to over-water, you just want the soil to be damp, which is why using a spray bottle is helpful (I got mine at the dollar store).
I also placed a garden marker in the pots so I can remember which is which and keep track during the growing season. I started keeping a garden journal a few years ago, detailing dates and varieties planted as well as the seed company and I find it really helpful to look back on.
Then I covered it all with Saran wrap, which provides a little green house type effect helping to warm up the soil and the seeds to germinate. Once germinated (sprouted) I’ll be removing the Saran wrap to try to avoid damping off, which can happen if condensation drops onto the leaves.
To germinate, the seeds need to be in a warm area, with warmth coming from the bottom. I’ve put mine on top of the fridge….coincidentally…the top of my fridge got cleaned this week! 😉 I’ll be watering/dampening the soil with my spray bottle and keeping it there until the seeds germinate. Then I’ll be removing the Saran wrap cover and moving the pots to a sunny window, preferably a south or south-east facing one. As the plants grow I’ll be keeping an eye on them as they grow, they may start to lean towards the light so I’ll be rotating them every few days to encourage them to grow straight.
There will be a few other things to consider as they grow, such as thinning or re-potting, and then eventually transferring to the garden. I think I will update this post or possibly do a Part 2…once I get to that stage…so I can show you how things have progressed and what I have done with my plants, looking ahead to getting them into the garden and eventually producing tomatoes.
I would you encourage you to watch our Facebook Live video if you are wanting to hear Elspeth share her tips around starting tomatoes from seed. Follow along on the Simple Local Life Facebook and Instagram for lots of gardening photos along the way. Wile’s Lake Farm Market is also on Facebook and have an Instagram account as well this year! Pretty pictures from the Market…coming up! 🙂
I am SO delighted to be getting back in to the garden. I’m also really excited to try starting plants from seed this year and sharing this growing season with all of you! I am thrilled to have the support of Wile’s Lake Farm Market…one of my “happy places”…as a sponsor and a mentor to me as I continue to learn and grow in my garden. I really hope some of you will join us, as its way more fun to do things with friends! 😉 So, garden along with me, join in on our Facebook Live events, ask questions, SHARE YOUR PHOTOS…and discover the joy of growing your own food. Grow with Me and Wile’s Lake Farm Market…it’s gonna be a lot of fun. 🙂
*Wile’s Lake Farm Market is sponsoring this gardening series, but all opinions and experiences are my own.